Body of Marilane Carter, missing pastor’s wife who struggled with mental health, likely found

The late Marilane Carter, 36, was married to Rev. Adam Carter who is the lead pastor Leawood Baptist Church in Kansas. | Facebook/Paul Carter

The body of a woman authorities believe is likely Marilane Carter, the missing wife of Pastor Adam Carter, was found in her vehicle inside a shipping container in Arkansas Tuesday after days of searching and 24-hour prayer vigils.

“With a heavy heart we share this update with everyone.  Today Marilane's vehicle was found in West Memphis, AR, in Crittenden County.  A female was found deceased in the vehicle. Law enforcement says that foul play is not suspected.  The family asks for your thoughts and prayers right now and in the upcoming days,”, a website promoted by her family, announced Tuesday.

Crittenden County Chief Todd Grooms told WMC Action News 5 that her vehicle appears to have been driven into an empty storage container on private property in Arkansas. It is unclear how the driver of her vehicle made it onto the normally gated property and into the container. A purse and credit cards belonging to the pastor’s wife were found inside the vehicle.

Grooms also revealed at a press conference that is was Marilane Carter’s uncle who discovered her vehicle in a Conex trailer that was hidden by tall grass in an area that had previously been searched.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know what I was expecting," Grooms said. "I was hoping for a more positive outcome, where she would show up somewhere and had maybe been somewhere getting some mental health treatment.”

The body is expected to be positively identified in coming days.

The Overland Park Police Department said the 36-year-old pastor’s wife, who graduated from Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School and was a mother of three young children, was last seen by her family around 8:15 p.m. on Aug. 1. She left her home that day to go to Birmingham, where her parents and sister live, reported.

A family photo of Pastor Adam Carter | Screenshot/Facebook

In a message posted to Facebook on Aug. 5, Marilane Carter’s brother-in-law, Paul Carter, said she had been considering getting psychiatric help when she left.

“Over this past weekend (August 1st & 2nd), Marilane has been desiring to receive psychiatric help. She has not been seen since Saturday evening and has not been heard from since Sunday evening. She was last heard from in the Memphis, Tennesee area. Her intent was to get to Birmingham, Alabama. She was driving her 2011 dark grey GMC Acadia with Kansas plates 194 LFY,” Paul Carter wrote.

Authorities said on the Saturday Marilane Carter went missing, she bought a Southwest Airlines ticket to fly to Birmingham to visit her sister, who was expected to give birth to a new baby soon. They also confirmed that she was also expected to seek treatment for mental health issues. After waking up from a nap that day, however, she decided to drive instead.

Brady McLaughlin, another of Marilane Carter’s brothers-in-law, told that her husband is “absolutely devastated” and had broken the news to his three children on Tuesday afternoon.

Adam Carter leads Leawood Baptist Church in Kansas. The church announced Wednesday that Marilane passed away and said the "best thing that we can do right now is pray" for the family.

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